My (real) parents were on a car trip, but it was like we all in the Great Depression era. We even had a car from then, one of those mobster looking things (the hit-man car that the modern PT Cruiser is modelled after). We stopped at a place to stay for the night, and I remember it being cold outside but still daylight. Inside the hotel was a line, a very long line. Everyone was sorta hunkered down along a hallway, with a blanket around them if they were lucky enough to have one. Then this lady who musta been the manager/owner scurried by, saying to herself quite audibly, "At least I have the alimony payment" over and over. I think she said something before that too, as she came in, like, "I can't do this I can't deal with this anymore."
I turned to Dad, who was crammed in an alcove behind me with other people, and I said, "That's not smart, she shouldn't talk like she's got money around a bunch of strangers, she's putting herself in danger. I guess she could have meant that she'd just successfully made an alimony payment, but the odds are entirely greater that she's the one with the cash." Dad said something in agreement.
I decided to follow her, worried she was gonna get in trouble. I managed to stop her outside the hotel, and asked if there was something I could do to help. At this point I was morphing into a sort of freelance detective character (still female, still kinda with my real personality). The lady said that the hotel's reputation was on the line, that someone had stolen a diamond necklace from one of the tenants. I asked who'd been in and out of the place lately, and the lady said there was one black kid named Scamp who hung around a lot (at least I think that's his name... something like that... Scat? Scraps? not sure).
Suddenly I knew he'd done it, call it gut feeling or whatever. I just had to find him and see what he'd done with it. I told the lady not to worry, that I'd take care of this, and asked if the tenant had reported the theft to the police yet. The lady said no, and I said "good" because Scamp would be less likely to be nervous if the cops weren't crawling all over the town looking for a thief.
I had no car and no driver's license, so I walked. I checked my pocket for coins and realized that in Great Depression standards I had a small fortune in coins in my pocket, even though it was just a little bit of change by today's standards. I knew I could use a taxi for a penny to get anywhere in town, and for two pennies I was certain any cabby would drive me all over for however long it took. I walked past my Dad who was bicycling down the main street for some reason (like he belonged in this town?) and then I got a taxi.
I stopped at a jewelry store and asked if anyone had sold or tried to sell a diamond necklace here recently. "No." Had anyone seen Scamp around? "Yes, he's over at the laundromat a lot." So I went there and saw him across this big room of washers and dryers. He was talking to himself, working out his own code of holes in the wall, and by pressing the right one he openned a secret compartment in the wall. He hid something in a small box that came out of it (like a CD player ejecting it's tray, but the box came out completely) and then closed it again.
I went up to him, pretending I hadn't seen the secrets (there were three compartments total). First I talked to him, making him trust me and feel safe with me. Then I convinced him to give up the goods, and I openned the third compartment (I knew which one probably had jewelry from watching earlier). I asked him if one necklace was the diamond one missing from the hotel, but I had guessed wrong and he pointed out the correct one. It was a diamond set in a open heart shape made of gold, and the chain was gold too. I put that necklace in my right front pocket of my shirt so I wouldn't get it mixed up again. I said I'd help him return the rest of the stolen jewelry too. One of the other compartments had stuff that was actually his, just little odds and ends like pieces of ribbon. He started to tell me about his sister. He said, "You know my sister's depressed, right?" She was poor too, and spent all her time in her room. She seemed to be getting sicker and sicker. Everone expected her to just sorta pine away and die, like there was no way to help her.
I went to visit the sister and saw her room was awfully decorated in puke green and a color I like to call "grandma orange." I guess she liked green and orange together, but I knew just the decor alone had to be making her depression worse. I found a pillow that had a pattern of orange flowers on green leaves, and I said, "How would you like to see your room completely made over in this green" and I pointed to an almost lime-green, "and this orange" and I pointed to a matching neon orange. (Very Target/Ikea-like, or fairly typical "Bed In A Bag" bedding color options.) I was already thinking of patterns for the bedding and accessories. The girl seemed interested, and I knew this makeover would be a huge breath of fresh air for her. Plus, we'd be getting her all new clothes and a hair makeover too. This was starting to feel like one of those extreme makeover shows, and the Great Depression era was fading into modern times.
And then that's exactly what it was. I was the host of a makeover show, and I'd become a black lady. I was standing on the porch of the house the following morning talking to the girl's mother and aunt or someone like that (they were all black too, of course, since Scamp was black in the first place and this was his family). The women were sitting around on the patio furniture. I said, "Now, we've got a lot to do, lots of shopping to get done, so I better get started." And I was going to go in and get the girl.
Then I woke up.